Final decision only after review of covid- 19 situation, sources
Srinagar, June 05 : Though the Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, has got instructions to clear the baltal track for annual Amarnath yatra pilgrimage, a final decision would only be taken after a fresh review of the coronavirus situation in mid- June, KINS has learnt.
The 43-daylong annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave at Pahalgam was to start on June 23 and end on August 3. Last year, the yatra was cancelled by the government in view of the security threat. The government had issued an advisory asking yatris and tourists to leave Kashmir on August 3. On August 5, 2019, Kashmir was put under lockdown after the revocation of Article 370.
“We have received instructions to clear the Baltal track and accordingly we are on job to clear the route, but we have no further information in this regard,” DC Ganderbal Shafqat Ahmad told news agency KINS.
However the official sources said that due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, an appropriate decision on organising the Amarnath yatra can only be taken after a fresh review of the coronavirus situation. “The final review is likely to take place in the mid- june and the government will explore all possible means required for the conduct of the yatra. However, all these developments are subject to review, in view of the COVID-19 crisis,” the official said.
The government has recently said that around 20,000 healthcare professionals and 30,000 police and paramilitary personnel were working to contain the spread of coronavirus, and their availability is also to be ascertained for the conduct of the yatras.
It is to mention here that there were reports that annual Amarnath Yatra, will be held only for 15 days this year and the pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas will be conducted from the shorter Baltal route only.
Sources explained that there were practical problems in organising the yatra this year because of the pandemic. Who all will come and how will they be screened and tested and quarantine? These are the questions that the shrine board, headed by Lt-Governor GC Murmu, is faced with, sources maintained. “Then, there are the issues of setting up of health centres, community kitchens and, above all, the deployment of forces”.
“The unprecedented situation this year had made the shrine board to announce the cancellation of the yatra before it modified its order saying, “the possibilities of the yatra would be explored after a few weeks”. But the shrine board was of the clear view that holding a formal yatra would not be possible this year due to the havoc caused by the pandemic.
The annual pilgrimage attracts devotees from all over India. The pilgrims have to register with the SASB to take part in the Amarnath Yatra. The SASB organises the travel and security with the help of the government of Jammu to Kashmir.
The yatra starts from Yatri Bhawan in Jammu and is escorted by CRPF to the base camp at Pahalgam in Anantnag in south Kashmir. The yatris halt at Pahalgam and then proceed in groups to trek the 48km route for the darshan of the lingam at Amarnath cave. Most yatris return from Baltal, which is the shorter and safer route.(KINS)